Aronofsky keeps it small, but his hand is clearly visible still. The Whale is a condensed drama about a man who let himself go physically and is trying to right some wrongs in the final days of his life. It is set in a single house (and a very small porch), and the drama takes center stage.
Charlie is an English lit teacher who teaches from his home. He tells his students his camera is broken, but in reality, he is morbidly obese and just doesn't want to show himself to the world. After leaving his wife and daughter for a male student eight years ago, his life fell to pieces and he never managed to recover.
Even though the drama is the primary focus, the film is still pretty visceral. Aronofsky really highlights the physical and mental strain Charlie's body imposes on him, which is a big plus. The middle part felt a little long in the tooth, but the finale was amazing. There are quite a few memorable moments that left a real mark, the performances are great and it really feels like a thing of its own. Another good film by Aronofsky, not quite a personal favorite, but it's a lot better than most other dramas out there.